I didn’t note it on Friday but Venezuela changed its rules for sales of gold by legitimate producers. Bloomberg covered the story and its implications for Rusoro Mining here. One tidbit that goes unsaid is that better terms for legal producers could, maybe, in time, cause corporate mining to overtake the Hobbesian horror known as artesenal mining. Venezuela’s central bank estimates that 60 percent of the country’s gold is channeled into the legal market within Venezuela. The rest is smuggled to Guyana, Brazil and Colombia, for who knows what sort of end.
Speaking of the Bolivarian Republic, Guri dam was 82% full on Friday at 8 a.m., up from 19% three months earlier. The rains have been well above average (as someone predicted in his first blog post) and recuperation has been aided by continued low generation in the power plants. Sidor, the country’s biggest steel mill, is taking its time to fire up furnaces after shutting half its production to save electricity. Venalum, the biggest
copper aluminum smelter, is supposed to get about a fifth of its shuttered production back on line this year, with a goal of getting back to full production by the end of 2012, according to a person familiar with the plans. This helps save energy, albeit at the cost of primary economic output. So it goes.
Corrected Aug 16 to show that Industria Venezolana de Aluminio, or Venalum, processes aluminum. Not copper. Thanks to eagle-eyed reader Juan Cristobal for bringing me back to reality.